In my role as strategy lead for a digital agency, I have the opportunity to work with many marketers. Regardless of their company, tenure, experience or title, when I ask about the key goal for any campaign, asset or website, the response is always lead gen.
I absolutely support lead gen as a goal, but it should never be the only goal. Much of what I do is educate marketers on the areas within their organizations that can be improved with the right digital experience. This requires marketers to look outside of their own departments and roles to think holistically about the entire company.
What follows are recommendations I commonly make to marketers, why they’re important, how to measure them and how to use them to prove greater value.
I. Sales-Marketing Alignment
Every project I can remember from the past two years has involved a company that offers software that is supposed to allow marketers to measure the ROI of their efforts by tracking each lead generated by marketing all the way to conversion into a customer. But here’s the funny part: Almost none of them do. Instead, they focus solely on generating leads because they often don’t have clear reporting across the organization. Sales and marketing may be aligned on objectives, but data does not flow between the departments. One customer had such a difficult time with reporting that before talking with him further about a digital overhaul of the company, I recommended that he hire an analyst to do nothing but live in spreadsheets and track leads throughout the sales funnel.
Yes, you must first have a means of tracking the leads, but if your software doesn’t provide that ability, get familiar with Excel. There is so much information you can provide by tracking that lead, such as:
- Length of sales cycle
- Average value of first purchase
- Lifetime customer value
- Customer referrals
- Customer ramp-up time
- Implementation time
- Customer churn
- Percentage of marketing qualified leads that result in a sale
With this information, you can demonstrate that when leads are initially generated by marketing (as opposed to outbound sales activities), the leads are better qualified. This shortens the sales cycle, increasing the value of the first purchase and subsequent purchases. Shorter implementation time means greater adoption of the product, which in turn lowers customer attrition. By measuring these values, you can test different campaigns to determine which is the most effective. Validating the ROI of your marketing efforts leads to a higher budget for new efforts.
II. Marketing For Customer Success
As mentioned above, marketing can improve the customer experience by shortening implementation times and facilitating product adoption, which lowers customer churn. Some of the recommendations I have made to companies include creating interactive demos, which serve as both a prospect educational tool and a customer training tool that can easily be shared and provide best-in-class training on their websites as a competitive advantage.
Providing materials for educating customers early and often will improve your company’s bottom line. Fielding many calls about the same issue? Create an online forum with questions and answers. Even better, invite customers to help build a community and let them answer workflow questions. Have a new product release? Use it as an opportunity to improve adoption by highlighting what the new features or enhancements mean for customers and potential customers. Use email marketing to educate, entice and incentivize your customers: Educate them on what’s coming or what they’re not leveraging, entice them to buy more products or upgrade from an older version, incentivize them to provide recommendations, testimonials, case studies, etc., so they can advocate for your company.
Track every email sent to every customer. Determine who clicked, who forwarded and who continued to engage with your content, and measure those against a control group of those who didn’t. Determine which content is most successful online and leverage that to satisfy customer needs. Data capture is critical, and even though it will take time to determine trends, marketers can build more effective strategies by keeping an eye on what’s working and how.
Here are some ways marketers can improve customer success:
- Provide self-serve training online with instructional videos, FAQs, Q&A forums, communities and interactive demos.
- Share email marketing campaigns for new product releases.
- Identify and market to prospects within customer accounts who could potentially be new users.
- Use social media to solicit feedback for improvements or to address potential customer issues. Feed that information to customer success and product management as part of a data-based product improvement strategy.
These are just some of the specific recommendations I’ve made to marketers over the past couple of years. What metrics do you track beyond lead gen to demonstrate the full value of your marketing team to the company?